Steve Carbone, the blogger known as “Reality Steve” who writes spoilers on The Bachelor and The Bachelorette, has faced lawsuits in the past from ABC producers of the reality show franchise for his work.
According to the Hollywood Reporter, there are several factors based on why Steve can still get away with spoiling The Bachelor or The Bachelorette every season in spoilers he delivers with uncanny accuracy.
Carbone settled the first of two lawsuits in 2012. The blogger agreed not to solicit any information about the show from cast or crew members. The second lawsuit from Bachelor producers was also settled, but details surrounding it are confidential.
Reality Steve has revised a few of his tricks by virtue of the lawsuits, but it hasn’t stopped him from spoiling the shows.
Steve cites the show as taking itself too seriously and likes to expose behind-the-scenes events.
“The outcome of this is a TV romance that will probably end in three to six months anyway,” Steve said. “Ultimately the prize on this show is not much of a prize. It’s a failed relationship.”
Carbone doesn’t solicit information from those contracted with the show to obtain his spoilers. On the contrary, he waits for others to give him the scoop. Steve is known for telling fans that he gets an avalanche of emails and calls each season from those with close enough ties to the shows.
‘Reality Steve’ Pleads First Amendment in Lawsuit Over ‘Bachelor’ Spoilers http://t.co/mIUeWMpj
— Hollywood Reporter (@THR) February 12, 2013
Reality Steve never reveals his sources but explains they don’t include current cast members of the show because they’re “way too scared” of being slapped with a $5 million penalty by producers for sharing secrets.
“They’ve had 32 seasons of the show, that’s over 800 contestants now, and not one of them has ever been sued for leaking information,” Carbone said. “I think [producers] know they can’t control certain things.”
Attorneys say that as long as Steve Carbone doesn’t temp contestants to breach contracts, it’s likely he’ll be somewhat safe if another lawsuit was brought against him.
“The law doesn’t have a good mechanism in place to prevent someone in his position from posting spoilers in advance,” explained litigator Aaron Bloom. “It’s very difficult to get a court to issue an order that amounts to prior restraint on speech.”
In 2011, Steve was caught offering a contestant $2,500 to give up spoilers.
An injunction to stop Steve from posting spoilers won’t occur. The report notes that even a damages request would deal with multiple obstacles.
“The anti-SLAPP statute is looming over all of this,” said litigator Alex Weingarten. “I don’t think it should be covered, but California courts take an extremely broad view of what’s covered under the statute.”
Legal experts say that if the producers got through an anti-SLAPP motion (which throws out lawsuits resulting from protected activity), responsibility would fall on the producers to show evidence that Reality Steve’s site results in fewer people watching The Bachelor or The Bachelorette, thereby lowering advertising revenue.
“There is an argument that can be made that his publication of these spoilers reduces the ratings of the show,” explained litigator Ricardo Cestero. “[But] that harm is not going to be a sufficiently compelling reason to curtail Steve’s First Amendment rights to blog about whatever he wants to blog about.”
The most pragmatic legal option is to sue contestants or crew members who divulge secrets.
“It’s really unfortunate, but their remedy is with the people they have contracts with,” said attorney Ashley Yeargen.
— Monsters in Morning (@MonstersMorning) February 20, 2013
He said that the show’s producers would be reluctant to penalize one of its stars, especially if they’re making the network a lot of money.
“If someone like Ben is making them millions of dollars, they may be willing to look the other way if they’re loosing a few eyeballs to Reality Steve,” Yeargen said.
Weingarten concurs, saying there’s not a “coalition of some coalition of reality television show producers that are up in arms about [spoilers]. My guess is a lot of them just don’t care.”
Steve Carbone says that he’s learned from his blunders and won’t violate any legal lines even after the settlement expires.
“I don’t even want to go that route,” he said. “I’m walking on thin ice if I do and there’s no need to.”
Mike Fleiss, the creator of The Bachelor, said that Reality Steve’s spoilers don’t threaten viewership much.
Steve Carbone says the one thing that would stop his spoilers is a fat check from the network.
“Everyone’s got a price,” Steve said. “It would be admitting that they were defeated and they can’t control a one-man operation out of Dallas.”
Reality Steve has given episode-by-episode spoilers for almost 10 years. He’s been occasionally wrong on who the winners of the show are, but his record is stellar and his sources solid. It doesn’t appear that his spoilers blog is going anywhere, and ABC will just have to put up with their big secrets being leaked by people they can’t control.
[Image via Youtube]